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Bad Gamer Part 2: What Happens If You Play Through Dragon Age: Inquisition Like A Total Jerk?

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Bad Gamer is a new series following one woman as she tries to play her way through RPGs as the biggest asshole possible. Mild spoilers for the first few hours of DAI follow. Check out Part 1 here.

Now I’m in the thick of the Hinterlands, grinding through the insane number of side quests in this area; I’m not complaining, but I forgot just how big this area was, and it’s a little daunting facing it for a second time. After a bland discussion with Scout Harding, I’m off to see Horsemaster Dennet. I asked him why the fuck I’d had to come all the way to his farm to ask him for mounts and he was none too pleased with the question. So I called him out on having a problem with me—with my race—and he assured me there was nothing wrong at all, and then sent me on my merry way without too much fuss at all. I almost wish giving people a hard time meant that I’d have to try harder to get them on side, but I can imagine it’d be difficult to pull off in game.

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Then I’m off to take on the demon-controlled wolves, save a druffalo, mark spots for Watchtowers and gleefully destroy both the Templar and Apostate camps. Helping refugees on the King’s Road by annihilating these camps could definitely bee seen as an act of heroism, but now that I’m attempting to play bad I could also see it as a show of strength and power, of sending the beginning tendrils of the Inquisition out so I can start to exert my influence. Sure, it’s subjective, but it’s making me curious what else will feel different this time around.

As a side note, I am loving the glimmer of still-wet blood on my dragon staff quite a fair bit now—and I seem to be constantly covered in it. With Brynn (my previous heroic!Inquisitor) it used to disappear more quickly—I’m not sure if this is just the game being slightly buggy or not, but it’s kind of neat.

When I return to Haven after a few hours of exploring the Hinterlands, I speak with Cassandra outside. She’s worried that she might have been foolish to choose this path, to open the Inqusition, and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I mean, who are we to decide the fate of Thedas? She should have asked for help—for advice—and pooled resources from various other leaders instead of putting her faith in a Dalish Elf and further splintering the population. Cassandra just wants to act, but knows she can’t be careless, and Emone is glad to hear it. Cassandra asks if I don’t believe in the Maker, and—as tempted as I am to lie and milk this for all its worth—to become a kind of shining beacon—I believe in being a truthful jerk, even if it hurts. Cassandra isn’t surprised by my answer: she’ll only believe all the more. For someone questioning her resolve, her faith even in the face of my constant negativity is impressive.  In a follow up conversation with her she asks where I’m from, and I make something up. That Cassandra immediately knows I’m lying and regrets not asking Leliana instead is quite funny.

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The conversation with Cullen is fairly short: he’s pleased that I’m humble after I remind him I didn’t ask to become a hero. He remarks that even if things are a mess at least the Inquisition can make choices and act where other institutions cannot. Cullen is sure I didn’t come to hear a lecture from him, which I admit I hadn’t planned on, and the conversation comes to an end. I can’t remember if there’s any other dialogue I might have missed here by shutting him down, but that’s part of the risk with this kind of playthrough.

When Cullen and the others decide it would be best for the Herald to meet with the Chantry face to face, Emone is still not entirely okay with being thrust into this role without them really asking, so I’m honest and tell them it’s a terrible idea. I sound paranoid and afraid. Arriving in Val Royeaux to find the Templars have been asked to protect the people and the Chantry from the Inquisition has Cassandra and I upset and angry. How dare they! But then, I did tell them this was a terrible idea, so even if this all goes wrong I can at least tell them “I told you so.” It’s the little things.

The Reverend Mother announces I’m a “murderer” and “false prophet” to the gathered crowd before I can even get a word in edgeways. The added insult about my being an elf? About the Maker never sending someone of my kind? Sort of the last straw. I yell and tell them to shut their mouths. When the Lord Seeker Lucius arrives with his Templars and they punch her in the face, I can’t help but quip that they’d saved me the trouble.

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I’m genuinely curious as to why the Lord Seeker even bothered to show up, though the Reverend Mother being punched was pretty fun to watch. Emone is so brash and challenging and angry sounding all the time, and though it’s making me paranoid that I’m doing the wrong thing, I’m also enjoying it. After Lucius leaves, I speak to the Reverend Mother. She asks me what I am if I don’t believe I’m the Herald; I answer that I’m an elf because it’s the only sure answer I can provide. But the Reverend Mother is strangely comforted by this. It’s interesting that some dialogue choices are clearly “bad” ones and others are not so cut and dry; sometimes I’m surprised when a dialogue choice I chose to piss someone off actually doesn’t. Emone reminds the Chantry that they brought this disgrace on themselves, which is an argument she made earlier regarding the powers in control, the “proper authorities,” failing to do their job. It’s almost like Emone is slowly coming to terms with her necessary presence in this.

One more stop on this session is to the Ghislain Estate to meet with Vivienne, First Enchanter, who I’ve always been scared of annoying. Maybe it’s the cheekbones, or her impeccable manners. Either way, before I can actually get going, Grand Enchanter Fiona interrupts to suggest asking the Mages for help with the breach. I want to know what they actually want—Fiona wants an alliance—and no one wants to help just for the sake of it. They’re all out for themselves. Ghislain Estate is gorgeous and intimidating as usual. One of the guests asks if the tales about me are true, and I tell them that it’s all just gossip. Why encourage interest in me when these people care so little about Thedas’ fate? When Marquis Dickhead insists the Inquisition is simply a grab for political power I ask what his point actually is. He calls me pretentious in response, and thankfully Vivienne is there to step in before I do anything myself. Vivienne leaves the Marquis’ fate up to me, which is bad news for the Marquis because he has to die. Vivienne, the darling, actually acquiesces, and it’s far more satisfying than I imagined. In the following audience with her, Vivienne joins the Inquisition. I’ve decided that I’m not going to push anyone away from the Inquisition at this point because there’d be little use in doing so. It’d certainly make my playthrough quite boring!

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Next time it’s back to the Hinterlands to grind through some more of the sidequests, and then hopefully meeting up with Sara and Iron Bull; and I have to say I’m a bit nervous meeting with Iron Bull because I romanced him with Brynn last time and I’m going to miss being his Kadan.

Emma Fissenden is a writer of all trades. When she’s not pushing through her next rewrite, she’s playing too many games and editing fiction at @noblegasqrtly. You can find her on Twitter @efissenden, or check out her other series for TMS, Game Changer.

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